Depression medicine sales have increased 400 percent in North America in the past 20 years yet churches are not talking about it, lamented one pastor.
NewSpring Church Pastor Perry Noble said that he never heard a sermon message on the subject of depression because "it's messy" and people "don't want to deal with that."
In a lot of church cultures, it's simply about making an appearance and looking good, said Noblesaid in his sermon this past Sunday. This type of culture fosters an inability for people to talk about real issues in the church, he noted during the second week of a sermon series called "Overwhelmed."
Noble told his congregation in Anderson, S.C., that one of biggest issues people struggle with is depression. He used the example of his three-year struggle with depression to illustrate the point.
"We are the richest and most depressed country in the world," he stated bluntly. And Christians aren't immune from it either. Noble succumbed to it in 2007.
His depression set in a few years after starting NewSpring. Noble said he realized he had a good life, the church was growing, he had speaking engagements, but he told his wife, "I hate my life."
For the next three years he struggled with a deep depression and said "there were days that I considered ending it all."
"You know why I didn't? I came to the conclusion that that is the most selfish, cowardly act that a human being can commit," he revealed. He also realized it wasn't something he could go at alone. He surrounded himself with friends and counselors to ultimately get him off the path he was on.
There were also specific reasons that had led him to where he was. "I set a pace in my life that was unsustainable … people don't have intimacy with God because they don't slow down," he said.
Not only did he set an unrealistic pace for his life, he also had an unrealistic expectation of others. "When you get in that frame of mind everything that is wrong in your life is everybody's fault," he explained.
Noble also had an "unrealistic desire to be liked by everyone. I hate to be hated, I thought everybody should like me." He became preoccupied with his critics and that fed into his emotional state.
When you are depressed, "it's a combination of what has happened to you. But it's also a result of the choices we make. It's not either-or, it's both-and."
To overcome his depression he sought help, and told those in the audience that he realized, "You have to stop being a victim and identifying yourself as depressed. If you want to get out of it, you have to freaking punch it in the throat, and take ownership of it."
There are three ways to do this. Number one is realizing that denial does not help, it only hurts. "If you deny the state you are in, you are foolish. It's affecting your family, your friends everyone around you," he said.
Plus, you have to realize that community is essential. Noble said he tried to hide his depression for three years, but he finally had to deal with it and break it to his friends and staff. "We can't do life alone," he said.
The final solution came when he addressed what was broken inside of him. After being humbled, Noble said that "today my walk with God is closer than it's ever been. I've seen more of Jesus since I've gotten out of this than I've ever seen. He was trying to save me from me."
God, he highlighted to the congregation, can bring people out of depression; it is possible.
In his blog, he made it clear that it is not an issue people should take lightly. "Depression is a very real issue…it has impacted every single one of us," Noble wrote. The goal is to ensure that the church is working to help those affected by it.